Frontend development plays a pivotal role in a company by translating user-centric design specifications into highly efficient, interactive, and visually appealing user interfaces. Here at Link Money we see it as our duty to provide the ultimate consumer experience across all of our services and platforms. Not only do we pay grueling attention to detail when building our UX, but we make sure this detail is perfectly translated across every browser and every device being used out there today.
1. A brief history of frontend development
Frontend development has come a long way since the early days of the internet. From the first simple HTML pages to the sophisticated web applications we use today, the frontend landscape has evolved dramatically. The prevailing notion once predominantly deemed backend development as the domain for "serious" engineering; however, with the myriad of advancements and transformations, this notion may no longer be the case.
Let's take a stroll down memory lane...
The Dawn of the Web: HTML and CSS (1990-1995)
The early days of the web were completely static HTML pages with limited CSS sprinkled in. Users did not expect interactivity and websites only worked on one screen-size. You can think of this as the "Read only" period of the web. If you weren't technologically savvy, you weren't able to get your thoughts out onto the internet. Take a look at the still running Space Jam Website for a reminder of what the web used to look like.
The jQuery Revolution and Web 2.0(2006)
The Rise of Frontend Frameworks (2010-Present)
As web applications became increasingly complex, frontend developers sought ways to streamline their workflows and create more maintainable code. This led to the emergence of various frontend frameworks and libraries, such as AngularJS, React, and Vue.js, which offered structure, reusable components, and best practices for building web applications. Frameworks were making it easier than ever to make your website feel more like a web application. This is about the time when SASS (Software as a service) companies begin to explode onto the scene.
2. The current state of frontend and more specifically at Link Money
Our technology decisions
There are no decisions made at Link Money that don't first go through scrupulous consideration. When deciding what we wanted to build our services on, we had many factors to take into account.
Assess the specific needs of the project, such as whether it demands a full-fledged framework or a lightweight library, the level of interactivity and complexity, and any unique features or functionality.
Ecosystem and community
A robust ecosystem and an active community are invaluable for long-term support, documentation, and the availability of third-party plugins or extensions. Assess the size and activity of the community, as well as the availability of resources like tutorials, forums, and Stack Overflow discussions.
Compare the performance of potential frameworks or libraries, considering factors like initial load times, runtime performance, and resource usage. Optimal performance is crucial for delivering a smooth user experience, especially on mobile devices.
Flexibility and scalability
Determine the flexibility and scalability of the framework or library, ensuring it can accommodate future growth and changing requirements without significant rewrites or refactoring.
Maintenance and updates
Investigate the history and frequency of updates, bug fixes, and security patches. Regular updates and active maintenance indicate a reliable and future-proof solution.
In contrast to some organizations that opt for the more straightforward approach of iterating and building upon existing legacy code and infrastructure, we remain steadfast in our commitment to leveraging the most cutting-edge technology available at any given time. This occasionally necessitates the rearchitecting or refactoring of substantial portions of our codebase. We view this as an indispensable measure to proactively adapt to the ever-evolving technological landscape. By embracing innovation and staying ahead of the curve, we ensure the continuous delivery of unparalleled performance and value to our clients and end users.
Ultimately we came to the conclusion of building a large portion of our frontend services on top of Next.js! Not only is NextJs developer friendly, hugely performant out of the box, and has a great community behind it, but Vercel is clearly devoted to staying on the bleeding-edge of the frontend ecosystem. As active participants in the open banking community, we consider it our responsibility to provide our customers with innovative tools to enhance their payment processing capabilities.
3. What we are excited for on the horizon
As mentioned previously the frontend landscape is exploding at an exciting rate. We at Link Money are always looking for new and better ways to benefit our customers, so we see it as part of our job to keep an eye on what new technologies are surfacing and take advantage of them when it makes sense.
Here are some compelling innovations in our sights:
Server development on the edge
Edge computing is revolutionizing server development, moving processing and data storage closer to the source of user interactions. This paradigm shift is poised to significantly improve web performance, reduce latency, and enhance security. This will take some of the strain off of individual servers that we have to propagate throughout the United States and give the end-user faster responses.
Progressively Enhanced Single-Page Apps (PESPAs)
Meta frameworks such as Remix are looking to shift the known paradigms that we use today with our Single Page Applications. This "new" paradigm is looking to take us back to a simpler time on the web while also bringing along performance enhancements that we have built up along the way. Is this the future that all Meta Frameworks will go? It is too early to say, but we already see Vercel taking note with its upcoming changes to Next 13 and its app directory.
Using AI to enhance our experience
It would be a mistake to discuss the future of the web without discussing the increasing impact of AI across every industry. Tools like ChatGPT are already being used to do some really cool things in the frontend world. Between writing those annoying unit tests, to spitting out the perfect regex snippet, the utility of this tool is unquestionable. It is too early to discuss any Link Money specific use-cases, but rest assured we are not sitting back and letting the AI revolution bypass us.
While frontend development may seem quite simple from the outside, there is an ever-expanding state of complexity that is spreading through the industry at the moment. This complexity in part is to keep up with the growing expectations of the end user. We have grown accustomed to near-instant feedback from websites and apps and at Link Money we plan to deliver just that to our users.